Freedom in the Mediterranean…More Barcelona!

For our last full day in Barcelona, I had scheduled two tours through Viator.  First a guided tour of Sagrada Familia in the morning, then a Flamenco Show at Tablao Cordobes in the evening.  Believe it or not, this was my first time scheduling through Viator, I usually book directly through the tour company.  Here is why I didn’t this time…Paying in US Dollars as opposed to Euros.  Booking directly through a tour company usually  means you pay in cash on the day of the tour, in Euro’s.  I am not opposed to doing that usually, but with five people on the trip, that’s a lot of cash to haul around every day.  So booking on Viator means both that I could pay ahead of time and that I could pay in US dollars.  Then, I just have to remember my vouchers…this is never been a certainly so I really like that I can just show them on my phone!  So first up? A guided tour of Sagrada Familia through Viator.

Our only hiccup of the morning came when I was asked to read a map to get us to the Julia Travel office to begin the tour.  I’m not sure if I have mentioned this but I am TERRIBLE with maps.  I am good at following directions, but if I have to navigate via map?  Well, lets just say it’s lucky I like to wander!

Fortunately, I am aware of this adorable trait so I always leave super early to  account for the fact that I am most certainly going to get lost so we were not late for our check-in.  We met our tour guide, and after a bit of confusion (one party thought that they had signed up for the tour in a different language) we were on our way to the famous church.  This is one of the most important tourist sites in Barcelona, perhaps in Spain, so there are a lot of people there.  Always.  All around.  And vendors.  Everywhere.

But thanks to our “Skip the Line” tickets, we breezed right in, got our tour guise boxes and headphones and headed in the gate.  We began our tour at the Passion Façade on the west side of the church.  Meant to symbolize the Passion of Christ, this façade is very severe and angular.

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We learned where Gaudi even managed to get himself into the scene (He’s the old man beside the knights on the first level!).

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We then moved inside.  I have no words for how awesome the inside of this church is when you first walk in.  Gaudi wanted to use light as well as architecture in his design.  I’d say he succeeded pretty spectacularly (also, kudos to my son for snapping this picture with his iPhone!!).

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The interior is meant to mimic nature so the columns look like trees that branch out at the top; the stained glass is colored so that as the sun moves around the church, different colors shine through; there really are no flat surfaces anywhere in the interior (except the floor of course!).

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Then we moved back outside to the other side, called the Nativity Façade.  This façade is meant to celebrate the birth of Christ.  It is typically Gaudi though, his naturalistic style can be seen throughout with animals and trees interspersed liberally in the design.  This facade is the complete opposite of the stark west side, Passion Façade.

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The Glory Façade, which will, by all accounts, be the largest and most striking façade  is still under construction and covered by scaffolding and tarps.  This will be the primary entrance to the church and is meant to represent the Path to God.

The church is scheduled to open in 2026…exactly 100 years after Antonio Gaudi’s death and I, for one, can’t wait to see it!

Our tour ended in a small building next to the west façade that Gaudi used as an office, and was also used as a school house for local children.  Pro Tip:  This is the ONLY air-conditioning on the grounds…since temps were in the upper 90’s our entire trip you can imagine how popular this little two room building was!

That night, we also had tickets to a Flamenco show at Tablao Flamenco Cordobes.  With Viator, I had the option of just buying tickets for the show, buying tickets for the show + a drink, or the show + a drink + dinner.  Since we all know I am a firm believer in prepaying for my alcohol, I chose the show+drink ticket.  I really vacillated about adding dinner, but ultimately I did not…and boy am I glad (but we’ll get to that later!).

We were ushered into the seating area, and I immediately realized that one benefit to eating dinner there was procuring front row seats to the show as they were all already taken and we were only the second family seated.  We were all handed our drinks…Sangria obviously, and the show began.

These people are crazy talented.  The dancers and singers alike.  The energy they put out, night after night, several times a night is unbelievable.

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The above shot is a good view of what the room looked like.  A Tablao is the wooden stage where the singers and dancers perform.  Overall I think we all really liked the show, but now we were hungry!!

We decided to just walk along La Rambla since we were already there.  We knew that the restaurants there are more touristy, but we were hungry so we were just really looking for someplace with no wait.  We made it approximately one block to a place called Ultramarinos.

So from a street view perspective, it looked fun and the menu had enough variety to ensure that no one would go hungry.  Plus, they could seat a party of five immediately, which was when we wanted to be seated!

I chose my dinner exclusively from the Tapas section.  I have decided that tapas is the greatest way to eat ever.  Period.  Picking five or six “little plates” allows me to taste a bunch of different items and since I have issues making decisions at restaurants, this is genius.  Jarod and Carly both got Paella (different kinds), Tyler got a burger (I know, I know.) and Mom got  (I think) a chicken sandwich…maybe?  At that point I was so in love with my food she could have gotten Krabbie Patties and I wouldn’t have noticed.  But everyone enjoyed their food immensely no matter what they got.   So if you find yourself hungry on La Rambla, head to Ultramarinos.  Is it kitchy?  Yep.  But it is good food and fun so I would definitely head there again.

Next up, we FINALLY board the ship and head off on to France!!  Plus dinner at Chops!

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Two Majestic Trips…One Review!

Because I spend quite a bit of time in the casino when I cruise…and because I don’t often win…Royal Caribbean sometimes takes pity on me and gives me certificates for free cruises.  These are not big, fancy week long cruises on their big, fancy ships.  They are usually 3 or 4 day cruises on the older, smaller ships…but hey! They’re free!!

I had booked a cruise for February and wanted to take my father for his birthday (his birthday is really in October, and I made him a really cool card!) See:

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But then…In January, he found out that his work would not give him the time off so my brother got the spot instead.  (Dad gets a much better cruise later on, but you’ll have to wait for that one!)  So that is the first Majesty cruise.  A three night trip to Nassau and Cococay.  Certainly a quick trip, but Port Canaveral is not too bad a drive so easy enough for a weekend get-away

Then, I got another certificate in the mail for a free cruise so I hatched a plan to use this one for bribery!  I needed to pick up my son from college in Ft. Lauderdale and move him back home for the summer.  I drive a SUV, but my BIL drives a BIG SUV!  So I thought, “If I take him on the cruise, he will go with me the rest of the way from Port Canaveral to Ft. Lauderdale, help me move the kid out of the dorm, then we can split the drive back home!” It was a genius idea!  But that’s not how it worked out…It was even better than that!

You see, while we were on that first Majesty cruise, my brother earned a certificate for money off a future cruise so we decided to book a second cabin for the May four night cruise and bring Katie along as well!  Then I was able to get Jarod to convince a local college buddy to store some of his stuff over the summer, so now I didn’t need the big SUV.  It all worked out really well, mostly!

So since both cruises went to the same places, on the same ship I am going to combine them into one review…that may or may not work but we’ll see how it goes!

First up, a quick pit stop at Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar. Why? Because boarding doesn’t start until 11am so what else are you supposed to do?  Everyone needs a pre-boarding drink!  And a quick picture!

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The Majesty of the Seas is an older, smaller ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.  But they have made some upgrades, most notably on the pool deck where the addition of water slides was a big hit with the Under Six member of our party!

Another big hit with the Pre-K crowd was our stateroom attendant’s mastery of the famed “Towel Animal” left in the room after evening turndown service.  I am lucky that I have always had really good stateroom attendants and these two cruises were no different!  Here is one of our nightly visitors!

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As a quick side note…I left those sunglasses on the plane ride to Barcelona so if you flew American Airlines last month and found those awesome Minnie Mouse glasses in the seat pocket, can I have them back please?

But back to the Majesty.  Our itinerary was the same on both cruises but in different order.  In addition, the four day cruise also had a day at sea, while the three day cruise just had the port stops.  So first up…Cococay, Bahamas.  Royal Caribbean’s private island.  This is a tender port, which means you have to get off your big ship, onto a smaller ship in order to get to the island.  Really like a water taxi service.  Because of this, tender ports are susceptible to weather disruptions and are often missed.  We had amazing weather on both cruises so we were able to visit twice.

Here is what the Majesty looks like from the tender boat.  The water around the island is not deep enough for her to pull closer so she really does have to park a bit away.

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And that little boat by her side that looks like a barnacle is one of the tenders.  But they really are a nice little ride, provided the water is not choppy.  You can see our seas looked like glass. Nice and smooth!

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And here is a little part of the island.  This has been totally built by Royal Caribbean so everything and everyone on the island works for the cruise line.  This makes for a nice sanitized day at the beach, which is great and I really like Cococay, but sometimes I miss local flavors and stuff like that.  Still, it is beautiful.

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We had some cloud cover as you can see, but it never rained.  A newer addition to the island is the floating bar.  Basically a tiki hut that floats by the shore.  It is connected by a giant chain so if the water gets rough, they can reel it in.

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It does have a limit on how many people can be on it at one time…presumably so it doesn’t sink…so they kind of do a “one off, one on” scenario once it gets full.  I haven’t actually been out there yet, but it certainly looks cool!

Next up, we headed to Nassau.  If you have read my previous review of Nassau, you may grasp that I have not had the best of luck there! So sometimes I don’t even get off the ship anymore, but this May I had a goal…Pirate Republic Brewery.  It is right by the port and I love tasting local beers so that was my mission.  In addition, the beach soccer world cup was going on that week and while the day we were there was the rest day, so no games, I did want to see if I could find a t-shirt or something from the event…It is Soccer Mom Travels after all!

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Looks like we got the best parking spot!  And look!!! Right there!!  Pirate Republic Brewery!!  How close is that!!

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Off we headed to find soccer stuff then stop for a nice frosty local beer…ah the best laid plans.  Seems I have no luck in Nassau at all.  We tried to get a taxi over to the stadium since the vendors were telling us that the only place that would sell t-shirts like that were over at the stadium, but then the taxi driver said that the vendors wouldn’t even be open because there were no games.  Sigh.  Okay so that plan is shot…at least I still have my frosty local beer to look forward to, right??

Um. No.

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While I heartily applaud the policy of not drinking and voting, this would once again add to my luck in Nassau.  So once again I am leaving Nassau without doing any of the things I actually planned to do.  Lucky I still have two more trips scheduled with stops in Nassau.  I will get to you yet Pirate Republic!

Overall, I really do like these short cruises on the smaller ships.  I am very lucky to live within driving distance which makes it possible to do these.  Next up?  Freedom of the Seas in the Western Mediterranean.  Spoiler…Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds!

Part 8 (Kusadasi, Turkey) – Cruising Venice, The Greek Isles, and the Eastern Mediterranean

In the days leading up to this cruise, Turkey had a failed coup attempt.  With that in mind, many cruise ships were skipping or replacing stops in Turkey with either a sea day, or another port in the area.  Our cruise had made no announcement as to what the plan was at that point, and when asked, the officers stated that they were monitoring the situation and would let us know, but the plan was to stop in Turkey and in fact, Royal Caribbean had collected all non-EU passports per the Turkish governments request (standard procedure even before the coup attempt).

All this to say that until the day before our port stop in Kusadasi, we still had no idea if we were stopping or not.  I had reserved a taxi service through Taxi Service for Ephesus to take us from the port up to Ephesus.  I was wary of joining a traditional tour because I did not want to get bullied into a “demonstration” that often turns into a hard sell.  I had read that most organized tours have a stop either at a carpet weaver or a leather shop included in the tour, and in fact all of the ship sponsored tours had this included stop as well.  The carpet weavers in Turkey are some of the best in the world, but lets be honest…who has room in their luggage for carpeting?

So instead I reserved just a taxi to meet us at the port, drop us off at the top gate to Ephesus, and come back a few hours later and pick us up at the bottom gate.  I made the reservations via email, the price was agreed upon in advance and Hasan was very responsive and easy to work with.  In addition, his English was nearly perfect and I have no reservations recommending this company should you ever find yourself near Kusadasi port.

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It is a beautiful port area, hills rising steeply from the ocean with condos/apartments/hotels built all up the hillside.  That little tiny island out there?  Well that is the namesake, the actual Kusadasi – Bird Island.  Here is a better picture:

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There are shops and restaurants all along the pier so a very easy port to navigate by foot if all you are looking for is nosh and trinkets.  We however, were headed to Ephesus.

We walked out of the port area past armed guards.  We were told that we were the first cruise ship to stop at Kusadasi since the failed coup attempt, only 16 days prior.  It was very clear that the merchants were happy to have us (tourists) back.

At the taxi stand, we met Hasan and he directed us to our driver for the day.  He ensured that we had his number and knew how to reach him if necessary.  While Hasan’s English was excellent, our driver’s was not.  He tried really hard and he was so nice though that we hardly minded.  Ephesus is about 30km from Kusadasi through some lovely countryside.  Our driver pointed out some other local attractions along the way and tried to teach us the names of some of the fruits in Turkish!

When we reached the top gate, our driver found a friend that spoke English and we arranged a time to meet at the lower gate for pickup.  Our driver assured us that if we happened to be a few minutes late that he would certainly not leave us stranded!  We also purchased a guide book and some water…it is HOT in Turkey in July and we would come to find out, not much shade in Ephesus.

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So these ruins are a bit different than the ones in Athens or Olympia.  These ruins are being actively restored.  They are only using the original pieces that they find so different buildings are in different states of, well ruin.  The other thing that I love about Ephesus is how accessible everything is.  You can walk in, around, and through almost all of the building sites.

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We added the Terrace Houses to our admission.  These were the houses of the wealthy citizens of Ephesus and are currently being excavated and restored.  As we were there on a Sunday, no one was working but evidence of excavation was all around.  And the houses themselves were incredible!

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The color on the walls and the mosaics on the floors are so remarkably preserved.  It was an awesome thing to see and if you are ever in Ephesus, make sure you take the side tour into the Terrace Houses.  It is hot and there are a lot of stairs, but it is worth it!

Coming out of the Terrace Houses, you arrive at the restored facade to the Library of Celsus.  Its Stunning.

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This two story library was home to thousands of scrolls (you know…what books used to be!) making it the third largest library in the world in its day.  This building has been restored somewhat. But since they will only use original parts for restoration, it is never going to be fully restored.

Nearby is the Temple of Hadrian…we seem to have seen a lot of stuff dedicated to this guy!

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And of course, my favorite…the theaters!  There are several in Ephesus from smaller ones used for Senate meetings and such:

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I’ve heard that this guy Paul lived here around 50AD for a few years.  He gave daily talks to scholars here.  Those talks eventually became “Ephesians” in a pretty famous book…that’s impressive stuff!

To the massive ampitheater used for concerts as well as gladiator battles and other community building exercises!!

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This one seats approximately 25,000.  See that little black dot?  That’s my son.  He climbed all those stairs!!  I did not, in case you were wondering!!

The Commercial Agora is where business got done.  You can see in this picture the parts that have been unearthed but not restored to actual buildings.

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 So after a very warm yet amazing trip through history we made our way out the lower gates to meet our driver. If you EVER make it to Ephesus, take note: start at the top and walk downhill! We passed people going the other way and they really looked like they would welcome death. Remember it is hot…very hot. And there are no trees or shady spots to rest. Add to that an uphill climb and I can totally understand their open arming the grim reaper.

But forwarned is forarmed so we worked with gravity and not against it. And as we made our way out of the historic site, we invariably walked into vendor central. These guys are well aware of the demographics of their clientele and proudly touted their stock of chilled water bottles…or the one that won our hearts (and dollars) air conditioning!

One of the traditions we have as a family is that whatever country we visit, we buy the national team soccer jersey. So we were in the market for a Turkey jersey and as it happened, he had the air conditioning also!!
I find that very often I am faced with the stereotype of a woman not knowing her sports. This was very apparent in Turkey and I was VERY amused proving him wrong!! He took it in stride and in fact gave us a great deal on the jerseys once I proved my knowledge!

So having gotten our fill of history and our quota of Turkish soccer jerseys, we headed back to the port with our driver who was exactly where we said he would be waiting.

Back at the port we stopped to shop a bit and get something to eat. We had some of the best calamari I have ever had and when we stopped the owner to compliment the food, he simply pointed to the the water and said, “Of course it’s good. I caught it right there!”  

All in all, this was our favorite port so far and I am so glad we stopped. I would go back for a land vacation without hesitation!


Back on the boat, we visited our favvie post port bar for Aperol Spritzs. Our next port is Santorini. 

Could it really be as awesome as everyone said??

Back to the Future…Um Freedom

So it’s no secret that I love to cruise. I love the ease of having something for everyone available at any time. I really love traveling with family so I often need entertainment for multiple generations and cruising is the best way I’ve found to do that.  So. Having done the Eastern Caribbean only once in 2010 and having then done the Western route twice since then, once on Freedom, once on Allure, I decided it was time to head back to the Eastern side.  And since everyone liked the Freedom more than the Allure we picked a date and made reservations.

For this cruise, it would be me, OD, TJ, M&P, KT, Grandma and OD’s girlfriend, GF.  This would be GF’s first cruise ever.  She had just finished (successful) treatment for thyroid cancer so this was a great way to celebrate that.

Leading up to the cruise was a HUGE roll call on Cruise Critic.  Unbeknownst to us, this was going to be a reunion cruise for a large group that cruises together every year.  In addition,  Back to the Future Day would fall right in the middle of this cruise and everyone on the roll call board thought that would be a fantastic theme for the cruise.  We had shirts made and everything!!

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These turned out to be the highlight of everyone’s cruise!  EVERYONE asked where we got them and it became something of a badge of honor to have one!  We even made one for the Captain!  Of the 8 in our group, 6 of us had these shirts (no kids sizes available for KT and they really aren’t Grandma’s style!) and we wore them on embarkation day.  So onto that!

Since there were so many of us going, we had to take two cars and since I love to visit places but I hate to drive we left on Friday after school and drove as far as Savannah, GA (just about halfway) where we stayed in the Double Tree Savannah Airport.  They have 2 room + sofa bed suites so there were 2 king beds plus a sofa bed.  Plenty for the 4 of us.  My car carried: me, OD, TJ and GF.  Mike & Peter were coming down a day later with KT and Grandma.

After an obligatory breakfast at Huey’s for beignets with homemade praline sauce (YUM!!) we were headed to Port Canaveral for our pre-sail meet up with the “Back to the Freedom” gang.  We arrived in Port Canaveral and headed straight for Fishlips to meet everyone and watch the Saturday sail away’s from the upper deck.

Then we were off to check into the Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach and wait for the second car to make it down.  They were leaving home on Saturday and driving straight through to Port Canaveral.  Not a terrible drive, 8 hours or so, but since we have already covered how much I dislike driving, splitting it up makes me a happier traveler…and beingnets!

On Sunday we were up and moving pretty early…NOT due to the excitement of the day.  TJ had apparently eaten something that did not agree with him and he was sick sick sick all night…it was bad…I tipped housekeeping A LOT.

But eventually we were on our way to check-in.  I was parking at the port, but Peter wasn’t so we worked it out so he would drop off luggage and people, then head back to the hotel, where he was parking and I would meet him there and take him back to the port and park.

FINALLY we were ready to check in!  We had all our paperwork ready to go and check in was a breeze.  It feels like we waited forever for boarding to start, but it couldn’t have been that bad because KT was changed and in the pool by 12:30 and I am SURE we all had drinks in hand by then!!

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So next up is the Muster drill.  TJ was chosen to be the example…or horrible warning depending on how well you know him!! 🙂  He did a fantastic job being the center of attention and off we went feeling much safer, thanks to him.

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As we sailed away from the port, the weather was starting to turn a little gray and overcast.  But we had a dolphin escort so I knew everything would be fine!

We were staying in an Oceanview cabin, two twin beds and a pullman for the third person.  In my cabin: me, TJ and GF.  OD and Grandma were staying in a balcony cabin and Mike, Peter & KT were in an Interior (when you book late you have to take whats left!) all on different decks.  I don’t think I would stay in a cabin with a pullman bed again.  If I need more than 2 beds, I will go with the sofa bed option.  TJ was in the pullman and his pillow kept falling off and onto my head in the middle of the night!  Here is what our window looked like…with a 4 year old for size comparisons!!

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You can kinda see behind KT that the seas were starting to kick up a bit…that would continue for a while.  In fact, we would miss Coco Cay because it was too rough to tender.  A shame because I really love Coco Cay and Grandma, GF, Mike & Peter and KT had never been there before.  Still…an extra sea day to get our money’s worth from the drink package!

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And here we are sailing past Coco Cay.  It really is a beautiful island, my favorite of the RCL private islands.  The water stayed pretty choppy for the whole of the next day.  I was on deck 3 and the waves were at eye level.  GF didn’t feel so hot, I had brought bronine and sea bands just in case so she tried those and felt better…eventually she found her sea legs (and the seas leveled out).  None of the rest of us had any trouble with the rocking and rolling, we could certainly feel it.  It was without a doubt the roughest seas I’d ever been it, but most all of the outside decks were closed so it was certainly noticeable.

Monday was a sea day, and the seas were rough so everyone found stuff inside to do, plenty of shows, shopping, eating, arcading, karaokeing, drinking and donating to the future ship fund (casino) kept everyone busy and happy!  In addition, we were going to get a couple of extra hours in St. Thomas since we would get there earlier than planned.  More on that later!

 

Freedom Sails…Day 5

Today we are in the Cayman Islands.  Grand Cayman to be specific and Georgetown to be even more specific.  This is the port I was most looking forward to, the only port on this itinerary that I had not already been to before.  I scheduled an excursion with Soto’s (http://www.sotoscruises.com/) for a two stop tour that includes Stingray City and the Coral Gardens.  This tour was $35/per person except KT, who was free but we had to bring our own life jacket for her as Soto’s does not have equipment for children that young, but they do provide both snorkel equipment and life jackets for everyone else.

I scheduled the early tour because I did not want to spend any time worrying that we would not make it back in time and have the ship leave without us.  I know, there are worse places to be stranded than Grand Cayman but we had reservations in Cozumel that we did not want to miss, so early tour it was.  That means early breakfast and early tender since Grand Cayman does not have a deep water pier for cruise ships.  Those going on the tour were me, OD, TJ, KT and P.  GM and M were going to get off the ship a little later, do some shopping in Georgetown and then meet back up with us when our tour returned to the dock.  Or at least that was the plan!

The group of us going on the tour got off the ship with no problems, found where we were supposed to meet our Soto’s representative and then fell victim to a pretty common occurrence in the Caymans…confusion over the time difference between the ship’s time and local time.  I had done my homework and knew about the time difference, but not everybody had.  One couple had messed up the day before and almost got left behind in Jamaica, so they were an hour early for the tour, we were on time, and one family was an hour late.  I am not good with late, I am rarely late and it is one of my biggest pet peeves, but I tried to understand that not everyone gets the time change.  So we waited.

When everyone had finally arrived, we piled into the van for the 10-15 minute ride to Soto’s office where we got our gear and all hopped on the boat.  It was about a 20 minute ride to our first stop, the Coral Gardens for some snorkeling.  OD broke his ankle in July and he had just gotten the cast off 2 days before we left so the doctor had warned him that while swimming was fine, not to use flippers, so he just had his mask.  TJ and I had full snorkel gear and for a bit KT came in with me to see the fishies.

The snorkeling was pretty good.  Lots of variety and plenty of color to see.  The water was clear as only the Caribbean can be and since the Coral Gardens are technically in the North Sound, the water was plenty still and gentle even for TJ at 11 years old.  We were the only group there for a bit, then another boat showed up towards the end of our time there but still, it never felt crowded.  After a while, we all loaded back in and headed for Stingray City.

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Stingray City is really a sand bar.  The water was chest level deep on me and I am just barely 5’1″ tall, so pretty much everyone could stand with no problems.  We all piled out of our boat and the captain and mate went to round up some stingrays for us to pet, feed, and for some of us, kiss.  These stingrays are wild, but conditioned to visitors…they know we carry yummy squid treats.  We were cautioned to not approach from behind and if the stingray wanted to swim away, to let her go, there would be more.  I say “her” because at least for this breed of stingray, the females are the big ones, about four feet across, while the males are much smaller: about 12-18 inches across.

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This was one of the coolest things I have ever done.  To be up close with these majestic creatures, to touch and feed them and have them all around you in the water was just awesome!  My kids were awestruck as well, even KT was wowed!  It was definitely a bucket list item!

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We stayed for almost an hour and then loaded back into the boat.  That was supposed to be the end of the excursion, but we were given one more “extra” stop on the way back.  Starfish Point.

As we approached Starfish Point, my immediate thought was that it was one of the most beautiful little islands that I had ever seen.  It was picture perfect, although I could not get a picture that I felt did it justice.  It is what you picture in your head when you hear of a remote Caribbean Island.  Perfect sand, palm trees, clear blue water.

 Starfish Point

 There were huge starfish all along the shallow sand, the captain cautioned everyone not to bring the starfish up out of the water and I don’t think anyone did, but my kids were just thrilled to touch the starfish and see these ginormous things!  They were up to a foot across and all different colors.  I am sorry I didn’t get too many pictures, but KT was refusing to be put down because she didn’t want the sand to touch her feet…sigh.

We returned to Soto’s dock and headed back to the van for the drive back to the port area where we were supposed to meet GM and M.  However, we were over an hour late (although still plenty of time to make “all-aboard”).  We wandered around the port area looking for them with no luck so we figured they had gotten back on board without us, which is exactly what they did and we found them a bit later, no worries.  The icing to this great day in Grand Cayman was that the Immigration Office right at the pier will stamp your passport if you bring it to them.  They were SUPER nice and now KT, OD and TJ all have stamps in their passports!  I really wish all Caribbean nations did this, but so far this is the only one we have had any luck with.

I have a bunch more to tell you about day five, but I think I will stop here for now…more to come!